Epicanthic, epicanthal, epicanthus, or eye fold refer to a skin fold or plica covering the inner angle or canthus of the eye.
The frequency of this anatomical sign is a “variant” among Europeans because less than 5% of persons have this feature – in other ethnic populations, this sign is more frequent and therefore is “normal”. Furthermore, epicanthus is also frequent in some disorders such as Down Syndrome. It is also noted in early fetuses and it tends to be less frequent with the progression of fetal development.
In 1862, John Down described a “mongoloid” (idiocy) now named after him (Down Syndrome or DS). In my personal view, epicanthic folds in DS may vanish during childhood as the nasal root and nose develop. It is also my personal view that an epicanthus is associated with edema.